Municipality of Colchester holds public hearings on fracking waste water

Jonathan Muma
Rick Howe, News 95.7
Date published: 
Mon, 2013-05-06

There are warnings the tidal bore in the Bay of Fundy will light up by itself if a plan to dump more than four-million litres of fracking waste water into the ocean goes ahead.

The water, which has some level of naturally occurring radiation in it, is in a holding tank right now, but Atlantic Industrial Services plans to dump that water into the Debert sewer system if it can get approval.

The district manager for the provincial environment department’s Truro office has given the dump the thumbs up, but nothing is official until the Municipality of Colchester says so.

The municipality is holding public hearings on the topic tonight and tomorrow.

There are concerns fracking companies don’t reveal all the chemicals used in their “special sauce” recipe that they use to get the gas out of the ground.

Gretchen Fitzgerald with the Sierra Club of Canada said there’s no way to independently verify how safe the water actually is, and that’s been a problem in the U.S.

“Texas actually did try to make a law saying you’ve got to tell us what’s in this at the very least,” she explained. “One year they made that rule, by the next year there’s about nineteen-thousand chemicals that are now called trade secrets, so under that kind of loophole, they don’t have to release them.”

The water goes through a “double filtering” process to remove as much of the radiation as possible, but Fitzgerald said we don’t know enough about the whole process.

“We actually at this time don’t know the level of radioactivity in the waste they want to discharge, so again that’s of concern, and as we know radioactive elements can stick around for thousands of years and the accumulate,” she said.

She said it’s not just humans that could feel any long term impacts on water quality if it’s dumped into the bay.

“We’re talking about the home of the endangered salmon populations, there are only a couple hundred individuals left in some of those rivers,” she explained. “There’s also the American eel which is threatened and obviously has a deep cultural significance to First Nations.”

Mayor Bob Taylor told News 95.7 staff has looked at all the chemicals.

“Everything is within the perimeters to be acceptable and we left it with staff, rightfully so, and they say the material can go now,” he explained.

He called it a bit of a moving target.

“There would be no less than probably one-hundred different chemicals that have been listed and for each one there are charts that have been provided to the public,” he explained.

Taylor said everything council and staff has seen is within the limits.

“In one way I’m not concerned, but I guess in the other way if there’s any doubt, then yes I am concerned,” he said. “We’re weighing that out now.”

He added if the plan to release the water goes ahead, council has left itself room to turn off the tap if anything changes.

A panel of five councilors plus staff will be at the public hearings which go tonight and tomorrow at the Debert Legion starting at 6 p.m.


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